Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Cauldwell ranch. Pastures and an isolated family residence overlooking the Pacific Ocean. In the first segment of the poem, the drunken son Lee, traveling home in the dark from Monterey, falls from his horse and tumbles down a steep cliff, where he lies unconscious on the beach, nearly drowning in the incoming tide.
*Carmel region. After his recovery, Lee reforms, but as he rides through the springtime beauty of the high pastures, he sharply misses his sister Tamar. The same earthy senses overcome Tamar, and later, while out riding with Lee, she seduces him. The narrator suggests that the two were driven to incest by the forces of the “wild rock coast” with its “beaten trees” or by the “wing-subduing immense earth-ending water.” Tamar soon discovers a family history of incest. Fearing exposure of her relations with Lee, she rides to meet her old suitor Will under the Mal Paso Bridge. Although she seeks help, Tamar is prey to the wild forces that drive her. As the fall season commences and local men set brush and pastures afire in order to cleanse the land, the Cauldwell family moves toward its own fiery destruction.